1st October 1984 – 1st October 2012
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Michelle Henderson Cervical Cancer Trust was the vision of Scottish football legend Willie Henderson’s daughter Michelle. Michelle Henderson was diagnosed with cervical cancer in October 2010 and bravely fought the disease for 2 years before sadly passing away on 1st October 2012 (her 28th birthday).
A remarkable lady, Michelle set up the Trust to give back to those who had helped her during her treatment, she also wanted to raise awareness of the condition and in turn raise funds towards hospital equipment, medicines and support groups for women suffering from the illness.
Michelle Henderson Cervical Cancer Trust is run by unpaid volunteers, receives no goverment funding and exists solely by the kind support of the community.
Rangers legend Willie Henderson has spoken about his family’s grief after his daughter died.
In an emotional statement released on behalf of the family Mr Henderson, who lives in Broxburn, West Lothian with his wife Veronica said: “We are greatly saddened to announce that at the age of only 28, our dear and beloved daughter Michelle passed away after a long and difficult battle with cancer.
She fought that battle very bravely and did as much as she could to heighten awareness of the illness she faced.
Michelle was a loving daughter, sister and granddaughter and will be greatly missed by all her family and friends.
A bright light in our lives went out today but Michelle will live forever in our hearts”.
Michelle fought to keep a positive attitude towards her condition, despite having to undergo gruelling bouts of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a full hysterecotomy.
Michelle, discovered she had the disease following a routine smear test, and used a television interview to urge other women to ensure they were checked regularly.
Michelle, who had an honours degree in journalism from Napier University, published a newspaper diary charting her battle with the disease.
The former model was also a promising athlete in her teens, described as “one of Scotland’s most promising young sprinters”.
At the age of 18 she attempted to become the first woman to win the New Year Sprint at Musselburgh Race Course.
After her diagnosis in October 2010, her many friends rallied around to raise money for The Michelle Henderson Cervical Cancer Trust, with events including charity football matches and zumbathons raising many thousands of pounds.
Her father took part in many of her fundraising efforts
Speaking in October 2011, Michelle a former Broxburn Academy pupil said: “Cash raised will go towards hospital equipment, medicines and support groups for women suffering from the illness.”
Schoolfriend Laura Purves, said at the time: “Michelle is a remarkable lady. She is absolutely brilliant. She set up the trust because she wants to raise awareness of the condition and wants to give a bit back.”
Her father, affectionately nicknamed “Wee Willie” was one of Rangers’ star players in the 1960s
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer amongst women aged 35 and under in the UK and every day 3 women a day in the UK die from cervical cancer and each year around 2,800 are newly diagnosed. In addition some 300,000 women a year are told they may have a cervical abnormality that might require treatment.
Screening for cervical cancer
Over the course of many years, the cells of the cervix undergo a series of changes. In some, rare cases, these cells can become cancerous. However, cell changes in the cervix can be detected at a very early stage and treatments can be used to reduce the risk of cervical cancer developing.
The NHS offers a national screening programme for all women who are over 24 years of age. During screening, a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and checked under a microscope for abnormalities. This test is commonly referred to as a cervical smear test.
It is recommended that women who are between 25 and 49 years of age are screened every three years, and women who are between 50 and 64 years of age are screened every five years. You should be sent a letter telling you when your screening appointment is due. Contact your GP if you think that you may be overdue for a screening appointment.
Read more about screening for cervical cancer.
Treating cervical cancer
If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it may be possible to treat it using surgery. In some cases, it is possible to leave the womb in place, but sometimes it will need to be removed. The surgical procedure that is used to remove the womb is known as a hysterectomy.
More advanced cases of cervical cancer are treated using a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Radiotherapy can also cause infertility as a side effect.
Read more about treating cervical cancer.
Causes of cervical cancer
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a very common virus that is spread during sex. It is a common cause of genital warts.
There are over 100 different types of HPV, many of which are harmless. However, some types of HPV can disrupt the normal functioning of the cells of the cervix, causing them to reproduce uncontrollably and triggering the onset of cancer.
Two distinct strains of the HPV virus are known to be responsible for 70% of all cases of cervical cancer. They are HPV 16 and HPV 18. Most women who are infected with these two types of HPV are unaffected, which means that there must also be additional factors that make some women more vulnerable to HPV infection than others.
Read more about the causes of cervical cancer.
In 2008, a national vaccination programme was launched to vaccinate girls against HPV 16 and HPV 18. The vaccine is most effective if it is given a few years before a girl becomes sexually active, so it is given to girls who are between 12 to 13 years of age.
There are two types of HPV vaccination. They are:
cervarix – which only provides protection against cervical cancer
gardasil – which provides protection against cervical cancer and genital warts
The NHS vaccination programme currently only offers the cervarix vaccine. The gardasil vaccine is only available privately at a cost of around £250 to £300 for the recommended three dose course.
Both vaccines do not provide complete protection against all the types of HPV that are known to cause cervical cancer. Therefore, if you have been vaccinated you will still need to attend your future screening appointments.
Read more about HPV vaccination and preventing cervical cancer.
Complications of cervical cancer
Many women with cervical cancer will experience complications. Complications can arise as a direct result of the cancer or as a side effect of treatments such as radiotherapy.
Complications that are associated with cervical cancer can range from being relatively minor, such as having to urinate frequently, to being life-threatening, such as severe bleeding from the vagina or kidney failure.
Read more about the complications of cervical cancer.
Who is affected by cervical cancer?
Due to the success of the NHS screening programme, cervical cancer is now an uncommon type of cancer in the UK. However, it remains a common cause of cancer-related death in countries that do not offer screening.
It is possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer. However, the condition mainly affects sexually active women who are between 25 and 45 years of age. Many women who are affected did not attend their screening appointments.
The stage at which cervical cancer is diagnosed is an important factor that affects a woman’s outlook. For example, if the cancer is still at an early stage, the outlook will usually be very good and a complete cure is often possible. See diagnosing cervical cancer for more information about staging.
Over 90% of women with stage one cervical cancer will live at least five years after receiving a diagnosis and many women will live much longer. Researchers used five years as a cut-off point because it is too expensive to track a person for the rest of their life.
Around 1 in 3 people with the most advanced type of cervical cancer (stage four) will live at least five years.
Another important factor is a woman’s age when cervical cancer firsts develops. Older women usually have a worse outlook than younger women.
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Charity Number : SC 043211